Serena’s Law: Closing a loophole that allowed sexual abusers to continue working with kids

Reporter: Lindsey Sablan Writer: Drew Hill
Published: Updated:
Serena Parisi, 21
Serena Parisi, 21 Credit: WINK News

There’s a loophole that allows sexual abusers to continue working with children even if an organization does a background check. But, because of one young woman’s bravery, the system has been fixed.

Serena Parisi, 21, continues to share her story of abuse. “From the ages of 11 to 14, I was actually abused by an adult male in my life, who had a lot of access to me and who I trusted,” Parisi said.

The reason she continues sharing her story is that her abuser was still allowed to be around children. “My perpetrator was going and volunteering at children’s organizations here in Naples,” said Parisi.

Her abuser, whom she did not identify, was out among children shortly after his inappropriate relationship with Parisi.

Serena Parisi has filed an injunction or a restraining order against her abuser, but that hasn’t stopped him. “The way that sexual violence restraining orders were being filed in the state of Florida made it so that victims and perpetrators both had anonymity,” said Parisi.

When an organization ran a background check, her restraining order didn’t show up. “I just cannot stand the thought of somebody else having to go through what I went through if it can be prevented,” she said.

Now, “Serena’s Law” requires each clerk of court to post the identity online of someone who has an injunction or restraining order filed against them for the protection of a minor. She wants to focus on educating others about what abusers do.

“It’s my hope that with my generation that we can sort of shift that focus away from Stranger danger and talking about how this happens in communities and very tight-knit circles, where adults and children have a mutual trust,” said Parisi.

Parisi is studying psychology at the University of Miami and was recently recognized as one of Gulfshore Life’s Men & Women of the Year. She is the youngest person ever to receive the honor.

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